PENDLETON, Ind. — Pendleton Heights snapped a five-game losing streak Friday, running roughshod over Muncie Southside on its way to a 62-27 victory.
Senior Jim Arney gained 151 yards on 12 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead the rejuvenated Arabians offense. Eight PH rushers combined for 295 yards against the Rebels after not reaching a combined 100 yards in the previous five games. Coach John Broughton, sporting a bright pink shirt in support of the first Pink Out for Cancer Game, thought the Arabians ran the ball better but didn’t want too get to “giddy” about it.
“We were running against a poor defense. But our young kids needed that. We’ve got two freshmen on that offensive line. Two of the five are freshman and one’s a sophomore. And then we got a junior and a senior so we have to get them some confidence. That helped us,” Broughton said. “They’re big kids, so they’re going to playing for us down the road but we need them to play now. They gotta play now. They did a nice job blocking up front.”
Noah Etchison (70 yards) and quarterback Jesse Furrow also had a rushing touchdown each for the Arabians.
The improved PH running game opened up the passing game for Furrow, who was a perfect 6-of-6 for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Chandler Wilson accounted for 108 yards of that total on just two catches that both resulted in touchdowns. Brandon Riggs also had one touchdown catch of 31 yards.
Senior Eren Davis scored the Arabians’ special teams touchdown with a spectacular 77-yard kickoff return in the first quarter. Muncie South didn’t let him get his hands on the ball again.
“They don’t want to kick deep to our kids. They gave us the ball at midfield because we’re pretty good back there,” Broughton said. “We ran three back last week and one this week. Eren got a hold of it, and he’s got confidence right now, he and Chandler both.”
Broughton admitted he was worried going into the game because the Rebels had faced and lost to many of the same teams that defeated the Arabians. Muncie South has a dangerous weapon in quarterback Josh Strauch, who ran for 190 yards on 25 carries and averaged 7.6 yards a carry. He also was 10-of-24 from 145 yards and three touchdowns. While Broughton thinks he’s got a good football team in some areas, he says one of those areas is not defense.
“We just really have to do a better job of covering the run. And I was a little disappointed in some of the pass defense when they threw the ball up for grabs we didn’t have anybody there. We’ve got to play the ball better in the air when they throw it,” Broughton said. “We have to do a better job of tackling. We get a guy to the ball carrier, then we don’t bring him down and he breaks a tackle. We’ve got to be better tacklers.”
The Arabians continue to work hard on defense every week, but Broughton just doesn’t see a very physical football team. And PH has been hampered by injuries, missing 10 players last week and seven this week. With senior linebacker and leading tackler Matt Goff out for the season, the Arabians will have to pull together and fight hard to get their offense back on the field.
But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. With about seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Rebels drove deep into Pendleton Heights territory and set themselves up with a first-and-goal at the 2-yard line. On first down, Strauch was held up by the Arabians at the one. Muncie South brought 185-pound freshman Terry Kuhns in for second down, but PH dropped him for a 1-yard loss. On third down, Strauch was stuffed again. Faced with fourth down, Strauch opted for the shotgun but missed his target.
“The goal line stand. That was cool. We haven’t had that in awhile,” Broughton said. “Good job by our goal line defense. We did one thing right on defense that’s for sure.”